Gaggia Classic vs Rancilio Silvia

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia

They are two of the most iconic domestic espresso machines, but which one is more suitable for you?

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

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When it comes to first-time buyers, two espresso machines often make it to the shortlist: The Silvia and The Classic.

I have been using both of these devices for some time now. To save you time, I will share my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Actually, these machines are pretty similar. They have more things in common than you might think. Both are single-boilers that lack contemporary espresso tech features like PID and preinfusion.

In this article, I’ll tell you what that means in real life.

➡️ Check out my in-depth review of Miss Silvia here

➡️ Check out my in-depth review of Gaggia Classic Pro

Technical Details 

ModelRancilio SilviaGaggia Classic Pro
ImageRancilio Silvia Espresso...Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo...
ColorStainless Steel / blackMultiple
Product Dimensions11″D x 9.5″W x 13.5″H8″D x 9.5″W x 14.2″H
Weight30.80 lbs18.74 lbs
3-Way SolenoidYesYes
Portafilter58 mm commercial58 mm commercial
Steam WandCommercialCommercial
Filter TypeReusableReusable
Included ComponentsIncludes a professional, wood-handle tamper, 9g Single Shot Basket (40-100-106), 17g Double Shot Basket (40-100-107), Double Spout PortafilterPortafilter, Pressurized Double Shot Basket, Commercial Single Shot Basket, Commercial Double Shot Basket, Tamper, Coffee Scoop
Country of OriginItalyItaly

The Rancilio Silvia V6 and the Gaggia Classic Pro, while seasoned warriors in the home-brewing arena, each come with their quirks. 

  • The Silvia V6, despite its recent makeover, does not include a PID temperature controller. This means you’ll need to become a maestro of ‘temperature surfing’ for brewing and steaming. 
  • The Classic Pro also lacks PID, sharing similar temperature management challenges as the Silvia. However, due to its smaller size, “temperature surfing” is slightly less daunting.

Both these espresso machines are single boilers, meaning they must alternate between different temperatures for brewing and steaming. Espresso brewing hovers around 200 F/93 C while steaming requires more heat. This temperature fluctuation can lead to a steam burst from the brew head if you attempt brewing right after steaming, an unpleasant surprise to say the least. 

The fluctuations in temperature are a concern for espresso lovers when it comes to single-boiler machines. With a PID, which is only available as an aftermarket upgrade, the issues can be improved.

Both the Classic Pro and Silvia have a more unpredictable brewing temperature than modern espresso machines, such as those from Breville or Profitec. 

On a positive note, the temperature surfing problem is far less troublesome if you’re not a milk-coffee drinker.

Build Quality: Rancilio vs Gaggia

In terms of build quality, the Silvia V6 surpasses its competitor. Although the Classic Pro is lighter, it contains more plastic components that may feel less sturdy. Furthermore, the Silvia comes with superior accessories, such as a higher-quality tamper and portafilter.

However, the Silvia V6’s sturdy build requires more counter space and a longer warm-up time than the Classic Pro, a potential downside for those with smaller kitchens or less patience.

User Experience & Temperature Surfing

Operating the Silvia V6 can feel like solving a Rubik’s cube if you’re unfamiliar with espresso machine workflows. Its design requires a certain level of experience and mastery of temperature control for the best results. 

Consider this scenario: you’re preparing a cappuccino.

  • After extracting your espresso shot, you must wait 90 seconds for the boiler to reach the necessary temperature for steaming milk.
  • During this wait, the crema on your espresso shot begins to dissipate.
  • This pause feels longer than it is, akin to the seemingly endless minute we experience microwaving food.

Many Rancilio users navigate this by steaming the milk first and brewing the espresso. However, this method has its drawbacks: it requires expelling a significant amount of water and steam to bring the boiler to the ideal brewing temperature, which feels like an extra, unnecessary step. 

Rancilio Silvia Espresso…
  • Classic Espresso: The Silvia has been in production for over 20 years– making it one of the most stable…

The Classic Pro offers a somewhat simpler workflow since you can go from brewing to steaming in only 30 seconds time. 

So brew your shot first, activate the steam button, and wait 30-40 seconds. A light indicates when the machine has reached the right temperature for steaming, but in practice, you can usually start steaming 10 seconds before this point. 

Still, it’s important to note that you’ll have to study and learn about the Gaggia Classic’s temperature fluctuations. You can get a lot of valuable advice online, but there’s still a learning curve. 

However, overall the workflow tends to be more straightforward when you brew espresso first, so in this regard, it’s a win for the Gaggia. 

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo…
  • Solid Steel Housing, Made in Italy

Steaming Power: Rancilio wins 

In the battle of the steam wands, the Silvia V6 flexes its muscles with a powerful steam wand and larger boiler. The Classic Pro, while no slouch, doesn’t quite match up to Silvia’s power. The small boiler means you can quickly run out of steam, so don’t count on steaming milk for more than two lattes in one go. 

On the other hand, Silvia’s steam power might be a bit overwhelming and harder to manage for beginners. But, if you’re an aspiring latte artist, the Silvia is the clear winner, allowing you to steam harder and longer. 

Espresso Quality: It’s close

Both the Rancilio Silvia V6 and the Gaggia Classic Pro can produce delightful espresso shots. However, the secret to consistently excellent espresso is managing the temperature. 

  • When handled correctly, Silvia’s espresso quality can rival that of your favorite coffee shop. 
  • The Classic Pro can also produce stellar shots, but its temperature stability, or lack thereof, can sometimes lead to less-than-optimal results.

The Gaggia Classic Pro’s factory-set pressure is 15 bars, which is too much. To address this, many users purchase a “Mr Shades spring kit”, but the need for modification is a disappointment in a machine labeled as “Pro.”

The Silvia has a pressure that can be adjusted by the users without any need to purchase 3rd party accessories, so I will declare it as the winner by a smidge.

Conclusion: Miss Silvia vs Gaggia Classic pro

Both machines have their strengths and weaknesses. If you’re solely making espresso, you don’t need the powerful steam of the Silvia; the Gaggia Classic Pro makes sense due to its more affordable price and quicker heat-up time.

If you’re looking to perfect your latte art skills, The Silvia is a highly appealing choice. Its superior steam power outshines the Gaggia Classic in this aspect.

If cost isn’t a constraint, the Rancilio Silvia is a better long-term option with its durable build, select accessories and larger capacity.

However, the Gaggia makes more sense if you see this machine as a stepping stone to a future upgrade. 

➡️ Check price for Gaggia Classic Pro

➡️ Check price for Rancilio Silvia

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Asser Christensen

Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site.
I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra.
My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.